CFMEU boss John Setka has resigned from the Labor Party, accusing leader Anthony Albanese of trashing Labor values.
Mr Albanese has been trying to expel the controversial union leader for months, claiming he had brought the ALP into disrepute.
But Mr Setka insisted on Wednesday that rather than simply withdrawing his appeal against the expulsion push, he had jumped the gun and quit.
“This is a personal decision I have made; it will not affect The CFMEU Vic/Tas branch’s ability to advocate within the Labor party for better policies on behalf of CFMEU members and working Australians,” Mr. Setka said.
“I can no longer stand by and watch Anthony Albanese trash the traditional values of the Labor Party and the union movement.
“The core values on which the Labor Party was built have been totally eroded under Mr Albanese’s leadership and I cannot support him as a member of the ALP any longer.”
Mr Albanese’s decision to support the Morrison government’s free trade agreements with Indonesia, Hong Kong and Peru was the trigger, he claimed.
“This is a complete betrayal of working Australians, who will lose jobs to foreign workers as a result,” Mr Setka said.
“It was the last straw for me and a sign of just how far out of touch Mr Albanese is with our fundamental principles.”
Mr Setka also accused Mr Albanese of failing to fight harder against anti-union legislation.
“Mr Albanese claims I have brought the ALP into disrepute. Nothing has hurt the Labor Party’s reputation like Mr Albanese’s leadership over the past five months.”
When Mr Albanese first moved to expel Mr Setka, the Opposition Leader accused the union boss of making derogatory remarks about family violence campaigner Rosie Batty at a National Executive meeting – a claim Mr Setka and other attendees deny.
“Enough is enough. I can no longer ignore the effect this is having on my family, along with Anthony Albanese’s betrayal of working Australians and the core values of the Labor Party and union movement,” Mr Setka said.
“I will continue to lead the CFMEU and keep fighting to deliver the best wages, conditions and safety standards for construction workers and their families anywhere in Australia.”
Earlier, Mr Albanese held a media conference in Canberra.
“One of my first acts as leader of the Labor Party was to take action to suspend John Setka from membership of the Australian Labor Party,” he said.
“I did that because I thought over a long period of time through his actions, he demonstrated values that were not consistent with the values which the Australian Labor Party holds dear. One of those values is respect for women.
“The fact that he’s been convicted of breaching a family violence order and the fact that he was also convicted and pleaded guilty to harassment indicates that that’s the case. But there’s also been a range of activity which are in breach of both the Victorian rules of the ALP and the values of the Australian Labor Party.
“As people would be aware, John Setka contested that action in the courts and lost. Today John Setka has withdrawn his appeal to that decision and John Setka has now been removed as a member of the Australian Labor Party.”
Victorian CFMEU boss John Setka has resigned from the Labor Party (after being pushed):
— Jane Norman (@janeenorman) October 23, 2019
Mr Albanese did not reveal that Mr Setka had resigned from the party, nor was he questioned about the union boss’ statement, which was released later on Wednesday.